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Office of the President (Walter Parker Beckwith)

Identifier: A2.1.4

Scope and Contents

Beckwith's records, though sparse, cover all aspects of school adminstration. The correspondence addresses such issues as changes in the curriculum, administration of the model school, admission and employment of students, and the hiring of faculty and staff. Beckwith's diaries are a day-by-day accounting of activities at the school and in his professional life. They relate major items in each school day, including student activities, disciplinary actions, teacher absences, Beckwith's speaking engagements, etc. While a few years are missing, the diaries provide a good view of life at the school from the perspective of the Principal.


  • 1896-1905


Biographical / Historical

Walter Beckwith, the fourth Principal of the Salem Normal School, was born in Lempster, New Hampshire on August 27, 1850. Because he lived in a rural area, much of his early education was limited to the short terms of district schools. When he was fifteen, he left his father's farm to begin his college preparation. He attended the high school in Claremont, NH and then went on to Kimball Academy at Meriden, NH. He entered Tufts University in 1871. As an undergraduate, he excelled in his studies and was a leader among his classmates. He was a member of the Mathetican Society and of Zeta Psi fraternity. During his tenure at Tufts, he taught during vacations and also took a year off from his studies to teach. He was graduated from Tufts with honors inn 1876. During his undergraduate days, Beckwith had considered becoming a lawyer. However, his successful teaching experience and his love for the process of education persuaded him to remain in the professionn. Upon graduation, he became principal of a high school in Chicopee where he remained for two years. In 1878, he became superintendent of schools in Adams,a position that he held for the next 18 years. He returned to Tufts during his tenure at Adams and was graduated with an M.A. in Latin and English literature in 1883. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and delivered the valedictory oration at commencement. In 1896, he was appointed principal of the Salem Normal School. Severa major changes took place during his tenure, including the building of a new campus and a subsequent increase in enrollment. He was also responsible for the admittance of men to the school and several curricular changes. Beckwith discontinued the advanced course and replaced it with special courses of study designed for teachers and college graduates. Beckwith died on October 13, 1905 of cancer. He was survived by his wife, the former Mary Sayles, and their daughter, Frances P. Beckwith.


.37 Cubic Feet

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Repository Details

Part of the Salem State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

University Archivist
352 Lafayette St.
Salem MA 01970 United States